Kipling correctly foresees the common use of radio communications, still in its infancy in 1905. Airships communicate with each other and to bases via the airwaves. However, the more common means of communication between airships is simply to pull up alongside each other, go out on the decks, and yell real loud. Low tech survives.
A problem Kipling recognizes is guiding your airship at night, especially when you’re above the clouds. There was no radar in 1905, and this development evidently never showed up on Kipling’s radar screen. How do pilots find their way? The answer is the countryside is covered with lights, strong beams aimed upwards that can pierce through the clouds. “Cloud-breakers” is Kipling’s term for them. Each uses a unique combination of colors, angles, and flashing to tell pilots which location it represents. 162’s captain reminisces about the “old days” when there were only white vertical lights that maybe penetrated a mist to 2,000 or 3,000 feet. Today’s lights penetrate even the thickest clouds. Modern technology is amazing. If you check the ads, you can even buy a book listing the town lights for all towns over 4,000 in population. However, when daylight returns, the ships resort to old-fashioned navigation. With dawn breaking as Packet 162 reaches the Canadian coast, the pilot simply follows the St. Lawrence River to his destination.
One of Kipling’s stranger predictions has to do with “modern” medicine. Kipling’s at a real disadvantage with this prediction. There were no antibiotics, not even sulfa drugs, in 1905. Various infectious diseases which would quickly be cured today were a death sentence then. Medicines were frequently the patent medicines of the day; useless scams that did nothing toward curing the patient. Perhaps it was the uselessness of such medications that led Kipling away from the obvious prediction: that pills and tonics would cure the illnesses that were so devastating at the time.
Instead, Kipling predicts journeys to the colder (or hotter) extremes of the earth’s climate. So, along the way, the 162 passes a “hospital boat.” It’s on the way to one of the “Glacier sanatoriums.” The cold heights themselves are part of the cure. As one of the crew explains, this is like one of the old cures, where “savages used to haul their sick and wounded up to the tops of hills because microbes were fewer there. We hoist ‘em into the sterilized air for a while.”
There’s some legitimacy to this theory. Microbes are few in the extreme polar regions, where the air is comparably cold, but this would be more of a preventive than a cure for the disease you already have. Certainly, this type of treatment never caught on, nor did the other extreme of trips to the Gobi or the Sahara. And yet, Kipling does hit one projection head on. When asked how much doctors have added to the average life, one of the crewmen answers “thirty years.” Indeed, the average lifespan rose from the 40s to the 70s between the beginning and end of the 20th century.